FAQs & Fatwas Islamic Studies

Ibn Taymiyyah and 3 Divorces

Asalamu alaykum,

Did Ibn Taymiyyah go against the binding agreement of the scholars [‘Ijm’a] with his opinion on divorce?

Ibn Taymiyyah and the three divorce issue:

Ibn Rushd [may Allah have mercy upon him] died nearly 200 years before Ibn Taymiyyah’s birth wrote in his monumental classic Bidāyat al-Mujtahid wa Nihāyat al-Muqtaid concerning this issue. “The contention of the majority of the scholars is that three pronouncements of divorce are equal to three divorces. The Dhahiriyah and a group of others hold that such an act is equal to only one divorce.”

Thus, it is quite clear from this statement that Ibn Taymiyyah did not reject the ‘Ijma of the scholars on this issue since, as Ibn Rushd mentioned, there was only a “Majority” and no “‘Ijm’a” consensus on the issue.

However, the question arises as to why Ibn Taymiyyah would take such an opinion?

Imam al-Shaf’i, Imam Abo Dawud, Imam al-Daraqtuni relate that Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Rukah divorced his wife three times in one sitting. Thereafter he was extremely grieved and went to the Prophet [may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] and complained to him. The Prophet [may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] asked him, “How did you divorce your wife?” He responded, “I pronounced three divorces at once.” The Prophet [may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] responded, “Indeed, this type of divorce is only equal to one divorce.”

Some scholars questioned the strength of this hadith stating that it was mutarib such as Imam al-Bukhari. However, Ibn Kathir states, “However, Abu Dawod narrated it with a different chain and it is a good hadith inshallah.” See Bidyatul Mujtahid Dar al-Salam print volume 2 pg 1383.

In addition, Imam Ahmed adds that the Prophet [may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] said, “Return her if you like?” Ibn Abbas adds, “So he returned her” and Imam Ahmed considered this narration good.

al-Hakim relates that a man came to Ibn ‘Abbas and asked him, “Are you aware that three divorces during the time of the Prophet [may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] equaled one [divorce]?” Ibn Abbas responded, “Yes.” al-Hakim states that this hadith is sound

Dr. Abdullah al-‘Uhad states, “There was a group of scholars who contended that one pronouncement of divorce could not follow another (meaning one said I divorce you! I divorce you! I divorce you! All at the same moment) but that, if it took place, it would only count as one divorce. This was related by Abu Musa as the opinion of Ali bin Abi Talib [may Allah be pleased with him], Ibn ‘Abbas, Tawus, ‘Ata, Jabir bin Zaid, al-Hadi, al-Qasim, al-Baqir, al-Nasir Ahmed bin ‘Esa and Zaib bin ‘Ali [may Allah be pleased with them all]

This was also the opinion of some of the later day scholars: Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn al-Qayyim and other critical scholars. This was also related to be the opinion of the scholars of Cordoba and is currently followed by a large body of Muslim scholars do to its ease and removal of hardship.” See Sharh Bidayatul al-Mujtahid pg. 1384

Common Sense:

1. If we were to bring back the fatwa of the Jamhur how many Muslims marriages would suddenly become void? In the Middle East, at least, it could easily be in the hundreds of thousands.

2. Egypt’s current law is based on the Hanafi madhab. However, its divorce law is based on the fatwa of Ibn Taymiyyah [ra].

3. Sh. Mustapha Zarqa [ra] when asked to establish a contemporary Shari’ah law [for Syria] choose the opinion of Ibn Taymiyyah [ra] regarding divorce.

Cairo 2007

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.


  • Assalamu Alaikum,

    May Allah reward you for a clearer insight on this issue. A seeker of truth after through and unbiased reading of the writings of Imam Ibn Taymiyyah will no doubt find that many if not all of the particular issues that he is been accused of have substantial precedence in our Fiqh history. It baffles me as to how people who seem to be considered as ‘Scholars’ and ‘Intellectuals’ could be so selective in their approach.

    Wasslam AH

  • May Allah have mercy upon Ibn Rushd? Isn’t he one of those heretical philosophers? This is really disturbing me…

  • Interesting points. I remember my professor saying that most modern Muslim law codes (i.e. family law) adopted the ruling of ibn Taymiyya for the same reason.

  • I find this statement very odd:

    “Egypt’s current law is based on the Hanafi madhab. However, its divorce law is based on the fatwa of Ibn Taymiyyah [ra].”

    because during my trips to Egypt and via my own family observations I feel like Egypt tends to be more shafi`i than hanafi in their religious rulings (non-governmental obviously) but yet their legal marriage procedures take place via a hanafi methodology..

    subhan Allah, made me think.

  • Salaam,

    Jazaka Allahu Khaira for the clarification. However, I’d like to point out that the last two points of this blog aren’t strictly comparable to the divorcing 3 times. i.e. if someone said ‘I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you’, surely this is different to ‘I divorce you 3 times’. If it were the same, then our dhikr of saying subhanallah, alhamdulillah and allahuakbar x times after prayer would fold up into 1, no?

    Also about the first point (I swear by Allah twenty times…), isn’t there the tradition of the man/woman (excuse my ignorance) who confessed to the prophet 3 times that he/she committed zina, and he turned away each time, but in the end had to take the witness – doesn’t that show that someone can bear witness more than once, in certain circumstances?

    Just a couple of thoughts 🙂

    Wa Salaam

    • Telling divorce three times at same time means at that particular time the man want to divorce, actually that time telling one times and three times no difference as his mind or angry at same level. he do not get any chance to rethink .. So actually three times or even more at one particular time should be one occasion to divorce.

      Suppose at this important ıssue Ibn Rushd, ibn-taymiyyah, Ibn Kathir and so on are more logical and realistic. brother all we have to be more realistic find the true .. definitely not just with own thought but through those great scholars .
      Wa Salaam

  • Asalamu alaykum,

    Angie: keep in mind that Egypt was under, more or less, Turkish rule for a very long period of time. With the rule came the school and it has stayed that way at least from the political spectrum. In fact, up until the 1950’s, the only madhab’s taught in al-Azhar were the Hanafi and Maliki.


  • Asalamu alaykum,


    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I was hoping someone would notice that nitch in the Qiyas used by some scholars to prove this point. I myself made the same observation and would love it if a deeper discussion could develop. As for the woman and the witnesses, I would appreciate it if you could bring the actual text to the table so we could discuss it.


  • Imam Suhaib? With all due respect, why did you invoke Allah’s Mercy upon a philosopher? Many (if not most) of his major ideas were extremely unIslamic. Sorry for the repeat–this was just troubling me.

  • Wa ‘alaikum salaam,
    Firstly let me thank you for addressing my post. I apologise if any of the comments sound rude or arrogant – this is not my intention, insha Allah – I am a very lowly lay person indeed.

    I have pulled out the following text from a Muslim (rA) hadeeth from this site: http://www.ummah.net/Al_adaab/hadith/muslim/had17.html – I understand that this is just a translation, but I don’t have access to the arabic:

    “Chapter 5: HE WHO CONFESSES HIS GUILT OF ADULTERY Book 017, Number 4196: Abu Huraira reported that a person from amongst the Muslims came to Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) while he was in the mosque. He called him saying: Allah’s Messenger. I have committed adultery. He (the Holy Prophet) turned away from him, He (again) came round facing him and said to him: Allah’s Messenger, I have committed adultery. He (the Holy Prophet) turned away until he did that four times, and as he testified four times against his own self, Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) called him and said: Are you mad? He said: No. He (again) said: Are you married? He said: Yes.

    Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Take him and stone him. Ibn Shihab (one of the narrators) said: One who had heard Jabir b. ‘Abdullah saying this informed me thus: I was one of those who stoned him.

    We stoned him at the place of prayer (either that of ‘Id or a funeral). When the stones hurt him, he ran away. We caught him in the Harra and stoned him (to death). This hadith has been narrated through another chain of transmitters.”

    Wassalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu.

  • Akhi Sharif

    A word of advise to myself and to you. We should be careful in calling anyone a heretic. Firstly, take a look at our own Ilm, do we have the ability to distinguish who is on the Haqq and who is not? How many of the authors books have we read or understood etc.

    please look at his bio.


    look at how Imam Dhahabi honoured his status.

    Please let us really be careful that our Islamic affiliation and bias do not cause us to be unjust and reject a whole group from the Ulema.

  • I thought this was going to be another one of your get a life posts. But it’s nice to know the reasoning behind the opinion.

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